One good thing about driving a car, even--maybe especially--in horrid rush hour traffic is that you get the chance to listen to college radio, and hear over the course of a couple of hours alternative news, Native American music (powwow, rock, blues, whatever, so long as a Native American made it) and a show whose only unifying theme is that all the songs are sung/rapped/chanted/otherwise enunciated by women. Need to find out what that Portuguese techno was...
I'd kind of forgotten just how damn funny powwow music can be. Humor, as Sherman Alexie said in Indian Killer, may be born of a survival strategy, but at least it's smart, provocative strategy that works the brain. I do miss the days when I spent a lot of time in that world. Not long ago I googled some of the people I knew back in Chicago and Canada, and it was so wrenching how many were dead in their 50s and 60s--cancer, complications from diabetes, a mysterious death in a bar. Here on the US East Coast we don't see Native American issues that immediately, except for casino negotiations, and it's easy to romanticize reservation life in many ways. And indeed, it isn't all horrible, there is strong community and the continuation of traditions and values, but so much of it is truly grim, in a way that surpasses anything I've ever seen in urban settings. One of those who has passed away told me back in my anthropology student days that I would sooner or later leave Native American issues behind, because all the students eventually do. I was a bit insulted, and insisted no, I was in it for the long haul. But here I am, just as he predicted.
So for Columbus Day,as it seems timely, I'm going to try to put together a list of books, movies and some music that I think every American ought to read/see/hear. It will just be my white girl's opinion, but they will be sources that educated me, and that I know ring true to the Ojibwe, Menominee, Hochunk, Kanienkehaka, Cree, Inuit and the other peoples it has been my privilege to meet over the years. I can--should, must--do that much, share what I have been given. Because that's the spirit in which it was given to me.